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Top Gear crushes them - but Norwich man loves his Morris car

PUBLISHED: 06:43 02 July 2011

Stephen Fairweather with the 1981 Morris Ital L estate, one of only five in the country, that has been in his family since bought new.
Photo by Simon Finlay

Stephen Fairweather with the 1981 Morris Ital L estate, one of only five in the country, that has been in his family since bought new. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant © 2011 01603 772434

They can often be seen crushed under the weight of a piano on Top Gear, but the Hellesdon owner of a rare car wouldn't exchange his for the world.

Stephen Fairweather’s 1981 Morris Ital L estate has been passed through his family from new and is now one of only five in the country.

A cousin of the Marina that’s been specially tweaked by an Italian design company, it has survived bouts of rust and can still be seen out and about in Norwich, drawing admiring looks from experts and youngsters alike.

Stephen said: “A policeman recently commented on it, and it’s amazing how many people stop and say they remember them when I drive it around.

“When I was at Chapelfield roundabout I even had a young lad who must have been 16 on a bike saying ‘that’s a cool car, sir.’”

It was first bought for £3,621 by Stephen’s uncle Geoff.

Since then, it has been handed to his father Kenneth, and then to his younger brother in 1988. Preoccupied with a Mk 2 Escort at the time, he bought the 1.3l throwback four years later for £500, much to the amusement of his friends.

“They didn’t like it at all, and they were always taking the juice out of me for not having a flashier car.

“I didn’t care though, because I knew this would be worth keeping,” said Stephen, who works as a flat injection moulding setter.

Since then he has renewed the interior, and will shortly be taking it to show off at a ‘retro day’ in Wellingborough.

He isn’t the least bit bothered about how Jeremy Clarkson, below, and his companions treat the Morris, saying it’s brought the car back “into perspective”.

But although he bought the car knowing it could become a collector’s item, and despite its steadily rising value, it’s unlikely the Morris will be finding a new owner any time soon.

“She’s just part of the family now,” he added, “I just couldn’t get rid of her.”

Do you have a rare family heirloom? Call Evening News reporter John Owens on 01603 772439.

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